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June 18, 2014

New WylieCat Takes Shape

Boat builder Ross Williams gives a sense of scale to the new Wyliecat 40.

© 2014 John Tuma

The latest addition to the Wyliecat line of sailboats, the Wyliecat 40, is taking shape at the Wyliecat factory in Watsonville. Wyliecat is the last of the local production boat builders, and continues the proud tradition of fast, fun-to-sail boats that the Santa Cruz area became known for several decades ago. When I got a call recently from Tom Wylie telling me that the deck plug for the new boat had been finished, he didn’t have to ask me twice to head over to see it. A new boat is always an exciting proposition, and it’s pretty rare to have the opportunity to get an advance look at a boat before it is completed.

The deck plug is a full-size mock-up of the decks, and is used to make the female mold that will in turn be used to build the cored-fiberglass deck, cockpit, and house. The plug has no hardware on it, so it is a wide-open invitation to dream about how the decks should be configured and how the boat should be set up for sailing. Boats built in Santa Cruz were known for their high quality, and that tradition continues with Wyliecat. The deck plug is beautifully finished, with smooth, rounded corners, and seats that are molded to keep you seated even when the boat is heeled. Although I had seen profile renderings of the boat before seeing it in person, the actual boat is prettier than it is on paper.

The new Wylie design features a huge, comfy cockpit capable of carrying two dozen passengers.

© 2014 John Tuma

The new 40 was conceived as an education and research vessel, with room to conduct ocean research or to carry up to 25 passengers on the broad aft deck and in the large cockpit. However, hull number 1 is currently slated to be a private vessel for local sailing and extended cruising.

"This is going to be a very pretty boat," says Wylie. "It is going to look good sitting at the dock, and it is going to be even prettier under sail." Two sail plans are available: the ‘traditional’ catboat rig that Wyliecats are known for, and a cat-yawl rig that adds versatility to the sail plan, although at the expense of top-end speed. Either way, this is going to be a very cool boat.

Seen here, the deck plug has been fitted onto the hull mold. It’s anticipated that some Wylie 40s will be used as racer/cruisers, while others will be used for ocean research.

© 2014 John Tuma

Hurricanes Are a Fact of Life

VIIRS day-night-band image of hurricane Cristina from Wednesday evening.

Colorado State
©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It’s now hurricane season in both Eastern Pacific (i.e. Mexico) and the Atlantic/Caribbean.

Mexico, where the season starts earlier, has already had two hurricanes, including Christina, the second powerful Category 4 (out of 5) hurricane of the season, which is now blowing at 130 knots. Like Amanda, which was the most powerful May Eastern Pacific hurricane on record, Christina is far offshore and not considered to be a threat to land. In addition, there was whimsy Tropical Storm Boris, which quickly fizzled offshore.

There has been no tropical storm activity in the Atlantic/Caribbean yet.

As this NOAA graphic illustrates, hurricanes are anything but rare.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Just for kicks, we include the accompanying graphic of Eastern Pacific and Atlantic/Caribbean. For some reason, it’s all the hurricanes in the former region since 1948 and for the latter region since 1851. The ‘some reason’ may be they didn’t have records of Eastern Pacific storms before 1948.

Even major hurricanes, meaning Category 3 through 5, are not uncommon.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

And just for double kicks, we’ve included the NOAA graphic of all major hurricanes — Category 3, 4 or 5 — since those same dates.

How Does Your Onboard Garden Grow?

The transom garden as seen aboard Majj and Sufiyo’s boat while Majj was up the mast trying to call Reflections.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

For Sheri Seybold, who has been cruising for a long time with husband Gene on their Esprit 37 Reflections, and is currently cruising Malaysia, the garden is going pretty well. The garden got started with a gift from Sufiyo Zazen, who is cruising with Majj. (Gotta love those unusual names.)

"Sufiyo and Majj are growing all kinds of herbs and flowers on their sailboat," reports Sheri. "After two weeks, I repotted the onions, garlic and flowers. I then added some rosemary and sweet basil that I had bought. I have been amazed at how fast everything is growing! I cut the greens from the garlic and onions, so they just keep growing. I take cuttings from the basil and rosemary, too. They are wonderful in all kinds of dishes, salads omelets, stir fries, and so forth."

"I have the plants mounted on the stern pulpit so they get plenty of light. The biggest problem I’m having is the salt spray when we are underway. I try to cover the plants before the spray gets on them, as salt is a sure plant killer. But that protection is still a work in progress, as I don’t think the plants would survive outside on a long, rough passage. But so far they have travelled 400 miles and are doing fine. One problem is finding a spot for the plants on the boat that wouldn’t interfere with sailing, as that would never do."

That’s how Sheri’s onboard garden is growing. How about yours?

By the way, the Seybolds started their cruising from the Stockton Sailing Club many, many years ago. After several years, they took a long break in Honolulu, but have been at it again for several more years.

Summer Sailstice Fun This Saturday

Making weekend plans? Don’t forget that Saturday marks the worldwide celebration of Summer Sailstice. Summer what? If you’re new to the concept, the idea is simply to get out on the water and celebrate the pleasures of sailing — on the longest day of the year — wherever you happen to be. Yeah, we know, in the Southern Hemisphere it’s winter solstice, but as you’ll see on the event’s website, sailors on the lower half of the globe are embracing the Sailstice tradition also.

The boatbuilding contest – and post-build demos – will be a highlight of the Encinal YC Sailstice festivities.

© Summer Sailstice

Participation in Summer Sailstice has grown from humble roots to involve roughly 4,600 boats and 17,000 sailors annually. It’s free to sign up, and doing so makes you eligible to win a wide variety of prizes. As you’ll see on the website, sailing clubs, waterfront business and individuals all over the globe are hosting Sailstice parties and special events. The biggest one locally is at Encinal YC — aka Sailstice’s Bay Area headquarters. There’s going to be all sorts of nautical fun, including a crazy boatbuilding contest, educational seminars (including one on Latitude 38 rallies, at noon, and another on how to get your captain’s license at 1 p.m.). And Goslings’ Dark ‘N’ Stormy cocktails will be the featured beverage at the club bar.

The lawn out in front of the Encinal will be the hub of Saturday’s celebration. Many other Sailstice events will also take place throughout the Bay Area.

© 2014 Summer Sailstice

Here’s a sampling of other Bay Area Sailstice events:

  • ‘Dinner and a Movie’ at Sausalito’s Dunphy Park — to benefit the nonprofit Cass Gidley Marina’s Sausalito Community Boating Center, and featuring Maidentrip, a documentary about Dutch teen Laura Dekker’s record breaking solo circumnavigation, plus live music by Fiver Brown and friends, plus free boat rides. Tall ship Matthew Turner High Noon Sailstice Celebration
  • At the tall ship Matthew Turner build site in Sausalito, "well wishes, good luck charms, and blessed items will be sealed into the ship’s keel at high noon."
  • Tradewinds Sailing Club Open House; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Check out the facility, mingle with staff and members. Free drinks, snacks and hot dogs. $20 for a two-hour sail (call to reserve).
  • Cal Sailing Club Open House featuring free boat rides. The club offers dinghy sailing lessons, windsurfing lessons and women’s sailing clinics. 
Free boat rides are a key attraction to many Sailstice celebrations around the world.

© Summer Sailstice

Many more local events can be found on the website. And if you don’t find one that suits your style, you can sign up for free to create your own. So happy Sailstice!

In addition to last week’s disappointing news that San Francisco is no longer being considered for the Finals of the 35th America’s Cup — this writer is admittedly San Francisco-biased — AC fans were also treated to the exciting news of the official launch of what promises to be a formidable threat to Oracle Team USA’s potential three-peat.
In the Friday ‘Lectronic we made a major blunder by identifying Robert Maxwell as the owner of Mari-Cha III and Mari-Cha IV, both of which raced in the Pacific Cup.